ScanDisk reported a lost cluster on my hard drive, is that bad?

To understand the answer this question one must have a basic knowledge of how data is stored on a disk. The main storage mechanism is called a cluster. A data file can take up one or more clusters. When a file is deleted, the operating system simply marks those clusters as being available for use. A lost cluster is not used by a file, and is not marked as available. In the vast majority of cases, lost clusters are extraneous, and caused by incompletely written or deleted files, such as when a user turns off a PC without first shutting down. Unless you suspect data loss, you can probably safely delete any lost clusters ScanDisk finds.

You should worry about the other problems ScanDisk can find, however! For instance if a Thorough scan reveals your disk is developing bad sectors, this means it is losing its ability to store information reliably. In this case your hard drive should be replaced as soon as possible.

May 2002

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